Monthly Archives: July 2011

How to work your core through laughter and the occasional meat stick.

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Every article that I read online – because I have a severely limited attention span and the actual, physical newspaper seems like a gigantic commitment – about aging states the importance of a social life.  My sister and I are obsessed with this, because we want to age happily, and not be terrible burdens on our children (and especially one another).  We are so serious about this that we have a pact to begin regular therapy when we turn 50, whether we need it or not.  If we don’t start therapy, we have given one another permission to “off” the other.  This will be in a loving manner, lots of booze and pills, and an Edward (Twilight) pillowcase as we are smothered.  She’s only 40, so we have a good ten years before this is really a problem.   I remind her daily of the fact that I am MUCH younger, so I can off her first.  Better start looking for therapists.  Robert Pattinson will probably be out of the closet by then, anyway, and we’ll have to change our pillowcases back to the old Johnny Depp standby.  But, will he still be hot in 10 years?  Oh, that’s just a silly question.

The articles are all rather similar in tone.  Exercise, have social groups, be happy, eat some blue berries and seaweed, live longer.  I guess it doesn’t really matter how long you live if you aren’t happy, I mean, what’s the point?  There are people in challenging situations in the world, who are just surviving.  I admire them for their survival drive, and I hope that I would have the same, but to be honest, if there was nothing making me happy I’d probably not survive.  Even the most dire survival is likely based on the crazy human desire to eventually get out of the current situation and to be happy again.  I have seen people who have survived some horrendous, incomprehensible life experiences, who are still living – but did they really survive?  I met a woman who had been strangled, raped, beaten and left for dead in the early 1970’s.  She “survived” but her attacker won. She was on every narcotic I had ever heard of.  She walked around like a stoned zombie.  Of course, zombies probably can’t technically get stoned.  I’ve seen other people who’ve been through even worse experiences who are actually HAPPY!  They rediscovered their mojo.  They appreciate every day that they get.  They are bright burning stars that you would never know had lived through such an ordeal. Not that it’s easy, I’m sure – but what is life if you can’t enjoy it?

Now I will step off of my soapbox, because even I have shit days that I wish didn’t happen.  But, I try to start fresh every time that great big sun comes up.  We’re all human and imperfect creatures.  Inspired to be better, healthier humans, my sister and I started a book club.

I think it’s like the Stitch-n-Bitch clubs of yesteryear.

My grandmother used to belong to one and I wouldn’t be surprised if those little old ladies never sewed a damn thing.  They were gossiping and talking about their husbands and telling ghost stories.  In similar fashion, I rarely even finish the book.  I think we spend an average of 8.5 minutes discussing what we read.  Last night we spent the other FIVE hours talking about breast size, meat sticks (and various other slang terms for male waggy sticks), horny dogs (not another term for meat stick, rather my pug who spent the entire evening getting his rocks off on my poor labrador), jiggly bellies, working out way too hard and watching the men around us just think about getting fit and seeing it happen in 48 hours, hairs growing in unfortunate locations, and the occasional booger that was ejected through fits of laughter.

Did we increase our knowledge of great literature?

Not really.

Did we eat too many cupcakes?

Could be part of the reason for the jiggle belly.

Did we drink too much wine, beer, and sweet tea infused vodka?

My head is saying “yes!”

We also burned those extra calories by laughing about the fact that my daughter exposed my lily white belly, which managed to already be jiggly – even before the cupcakes – to the only mom I know that actually could be a supermodel, if she was just 5 inches taller, and proceeded to squeeze it and say, “I love this belly.  See the donut?  Mommy.  I love your belly!”   I’d like to think that it was a nice reminder to supermodel mom that she should thank her lucky stars for her great genetic legacy.  And a nice reminder to me that my belly, in it’s infinite pasty jiggliness, is loved.

We realized the importance of not only a living will, but a hair removal will: should you ever be in a coma or otherwise incapable of plucking your own chin hairs, a friend is deemed your Tweezer Guardian and will magically appear prior to all other visitors to clean you up and have you looking less like a man.  I mean, you’ll be unconscious so you won’t care, but we decided that seeing all of those chin hairs may cause your husband to turn off the machines a bit prematurely.

Perhaps we also decreased our risk of dementia, paranoia, isolation, and other mental illnesses.  I think it was worth the effort.  You should start a book club, too.  No, you don’t have to know how to read.  You just have to know how to laugh. And, when you start your club, know this: if the people you invite can not laugh about the phrase “meat-stick” you are wasting your time.

Yep.  I love my bubble.  I could probably survive leaving, but why?  I’m happy.  I’m staying.  Dammit!

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Karma and the overalls

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My dancing career began when I was 6.  I was enrolled in ballet.  I hated ballet.  It made my feet hurt and the lady who taught it was an underfed, stringy haired, grumpy troll.  My passion for dance reared its graceful head when I was in front of the t.v. with my Solid Gold Dancers.  I would shake my booty harder than Beyoncé, I swear.  Now I dance around my house with only my daughter to witness my awesome-ness.  She gets embarrassed and pleads with me to stop. That’s how good I am (she’s obviously jealous).  My daughter doesn’t realize, but she’s even more talented than mom.  She will twist and flip her hair in time to Disney music videos.  We encourage her, telling her she’s amazing, better than those dancers on t.v. (we may be exaggerating).

When she busts those moves out at her high school prom, she’s gonna hate us forever.

In college I got to practice my funky moves at The Marquee.  The Marquee was a pathetic dance club.  There was never any one there.  I loved it more than dancing with my Solid Gold Dancers.  They played Goth and Pop-Goth (I’m making that genre up) pretty much every night.  I was an adult, and I could go every night if I chose.  I also could wear pajamas, because that’s what adults do.  They go dancing in their pj’s and sometimes straight from their printmaking class, donning their inked up overalls.  I was hot.  Extremely hot.  The gay boys flocked to me like flies to a rotting steak.  That probably wasn’t due to my hotness though, it was likely a result of my cute gay friend, who didn’t know he was gay yet.  Or at least, he hadn’t said it out loud.  In reality, there were no boys flocking to me, and oddly enough, that was just fine.  To me, dancing like a dead fish and getting my white-girl-overall-wearing groove on was joy on earth.  Like now, when I go to the gym.  I would fall over dead if someone hit on me.  I go there to sweat.  I go there to listen to J. Lo where no one will judge me for my decomposing musical taste because she’s singing in my ear buds.  I am a nasty work out lady, and I used to be a nasty dancing college girl.

Wow.  Totally doesn’t sound right.

The point is, I wasn’t there to meet boys.

And then, what should appear before me but a strange, cute, apparently straight, blonde boy, who reminded me of a short Woody Harrelson.  Maybe Woody Harrelson is short.  I don’t know.  He never returns my calls, so we haven’t actually ever met.

“What are you, from Nebraska or something?” was his opener.  This was not creative, it was because I was wearing my overalls.  Alas, I was intoxicated and didn’t remember wearing overalls (I had probably intended to change into my formal flannel pj’s), so I laughed like the mature adult I was.

Tee hee! (nope. I don’t actually laugh like that. I guffaw like a drunken pirate. It’s not pretty.) What do  you mean?” I said, showing off my new and improved college girl brain cells.

“Why are you wearing overalls?  Are you a farmer or something?” He asked, innocently enough.  I mean, you do often see farmers getting their groove on to The Cure and Depeche Mode.  With their gay friends.  I see where he was coming from.

“Guffaw.  Snort.  No, I’m just dancing!  wheeeeeeeeeee…..” and off I went to shake my baggy saggy overall butt, like the retired Solid Gold Dancer that I was.

He approached me again, a bit later, and asked if I was “with” my gay friend, the one who didn’t know he was gay, or was choosing to keep it to himself, but – even had he been hetero – couldn’t be blamed for not being remotely attracted to me.

“No no.  We’re just friends.”

What happened next should have clued me in to how dense the boy was: he asked for my number.  Because sometimes I am also dense, I forgot that  you’re supposed to make one up, so I gave it to him.  I was constantly doing this.  I have a serious problem with lying.  I once had a creepy dude at the park ask for my number when I was babysitting, after he told me he was staying in a half-way house (I don’t think he was looking for a babysitter).  I gave it to him!  And then I freaked out and wouldn’t answer the phone for over a month (this was prior to the invention of caller i.d. – we lived on the edge in those days, baby!).  Darwin would be ashamed that I have survived.

The next day he called and asked me out (the boy from the club, not the possible sex offender from the park).  I forgot that there are rules to dating and you are supposed to play hard-to-get.  I brilliantly said, “sure” and we began to date.

I tried to play it cool and arranged our first encounter to be at a coffee shop so I wouldn’t get drunk and act like a flirty farmer.  Again.   Once we got there and chatted for about 30 seconds, we headed to a bar.  I don’t have a great deal of will power.  I’ve been meaning to go on a diet for 15 years.  Still hasn’t happened.

He told me that he worked in a gas station.  I instantly thought that was cool.  I can’t explain my thought process, but I had obviously been drinking too often, and there was a serious lack of ventilation in that printmaking room.  I was inhaling laquer thinner and mineral spirits almost daily.   There also was a Pearl Jam song out at the time about a gas station dude.  I blame you, Eddie Vedder (you and my shrinking college girl brain)!!  I had never dated a blue-collar kind-a guy.  I had been around trust funders and college kids and more than my share of well-bred gay boys, but no one that had EVER worked in a gas station.  It felt so dangerous and new.  Of course, it was really just because he was too damn lazy to stay in school.  But lazy when you are 23 looks a lot like rebellious. Especially when your mind is confused with thoughts of Woody Harrelson.  I think I  had Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl in my head for the better part of 3 months. (yes, I psychotically likened myself to Christie Brinkley.)

We had our fun, although I kept ignoring the fact that he was the stupidest mother fucker I had ever met in my life.  I liked having a boyfriend.  Until he dumped me one day.

I WAS SUPPOSED TO DUMP HIM!!!

I felt like poop.

I still wore my overalls, but I didn’t feel like the fun, goth dancing farmer anymore.  My sister was worried about me.  My friends were worried about me.  I called that boy over and over again, channeling my inner stalker.  But little did my concerned loved ones understand, I wasn’t broken-hearted, I was pissed.  He wasn’t good enough to dump me!  What had gone wrong here?

The confusion blinded me for weeks, or maybe it was the fumes from the printmaking studio.  My gay friend who didn’t know he was gay came out of the closet.  We started dancing again.  The club was even less happening than before my ill-fated Mr. Gas Station had wacked me upside the head with his Woody Harrelson good-looks and his dumb-stick.  We had loads of room to dance away our troubles, all seemingly related to boys.  And then I met my husband.  No, not dancing in the Marquee.  He was in my Anatomy class.  He was a college boy. And he was a tall college boy.  He worked in a Liquor Store.  Obviously, more worthy of my college girl brain cells.

We were together about a year when I ran into Mr. Gas Station.

Fortunately, I was with my super-hot-husband-to-be, Mr. Liquor Store.

Unfortunately, I was working out.

Fortunately, I was still young and didn’t look nearly like the sweaty basket case that I now do when I exercise.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t show my man off, or bend over and stick my toned butt in his face, or even say “hi.”  I was so angry, still, from being the dumpee instead of the dumper that I had to leave the gym before I threw a free-weight at his big forehead.

My heart rate was elevated.  I was shaking and ready to do battle.  My future husband came out to ask if I was okay.  I told him that Mr. Gas Station was in there, and pointed him out through the glass door.

“Wow, he’s a lot shorter than I would have imagined.”

That might be why I married my husband.  Well, and the fact that he never once has mocked my overalls.  Or my pajamas.  He does sometimes mock my unbrushed hair, but we’re working on that.  No marriage is perfect.

oh crash my bash it’s bang the zang fourth woosh of baroom july whew!

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Every August, we’d collect the giant paper bag of illegal fireworks from my Grampa, and set them off, one by one, over the lake (a few feet away from the giant paper bag).  I’d get burned by sparklers.  I’d fall over logs escaping bottle rockets.  My dad would do a funny little trot to avoid getting blown up by the roman candles that he lit.  I loved that trot.  Even more than the roman candles.

August?  Yes.  That was when we typically escaped the heat of Saudi Arabia and returned to the U.S. for about a month.  The temperatures in Saudi Arabia at that time of year hovered around 120 degrees F and the humidity all but matched that. When I swam at the pool I had a difficult time discerning when I was and wasn’t under water.  Washington was frigid by comparison.  We dove into ice-cold water that snapped you awake in a heart beat, instead of into the Arabian Gulf, which was only about 10 degrees cooler than the oppressive desert air.  Of course, we had missed the Fourth of July, because obviously Saudi Arabia has absolutely no reason to celebrate the Fourth, and to be honest, they’re more than a little on edge when it comes to loud booms.

Some people in America find it odd that we didn’t celebrate this holiday in the Middle East.

I find it odd that some people in America don’t know that the entire world is not American.

The Fourth would arrive, and I would get a little sad.  Clapping just wasn’t loud enough.  Saying Shel Silverstein’s “the Fourth” poem out loud over and over didn’t appease my desire for partying.  As I grew into the late teen years, I heard about some kids going to the military bases on the Fourth.  That sounded fun.  Hot young soldiers and a party?  Wow.  That totally trumped watching St. Elmo’s Fire for the 23rd time.  I eagerly awaited my invitation.  Year.  After.  Year.

I never was invited.

Not that I was a total social pariah.  Not many people were invited to these things, unless they had military ties.  But still, I somehow imagined that if I obsessed about it long enough, someone would read my mind and want to ask me along.

Never happened.  Also, Johnny Depp still hasn’t called.  So, apparently mind reading is not as easy as you would think.

When we finally got back to the states, we blew shit up – like good Americans.  So what if it was like August 11th.

We also ate gobs of hot dogs, another sign of a good American.

And then there came a day when I was in the states for the Fourth of July.  There were too many people around.  There were mosquitos biting me.  The fireworks were so loud I started having flashbacks to a war that I never fought in.  My heart changed it’s rhythm at least three times in one show.

And then, I got dogs.  My dogs quivered in fear.  I locked them, and myself, in the basement – turned on the sound machine, played soothing music, and they were still terrified – and I was still trying to not have fictitious flashbacks.

And then, I had a baby.

For two or three weeks before the Fourth of July I became consumed with a hatred far beyond that of any intense PMS.  It was the hatred of people who dared to wake my baby.  I wanted them killed.  I would stone them to death, myself, for having the nerve to enjoy this damn day.  I could imagine myself picking them off, one by one, like some mommified version of a slasher film.

I have a neurotically active imagination (and a healthy dose of mental illness in the blood line).

I understand the pretty colors and a dramatic boom, but what’s with the booms that are so loud that my various sphincters shut their doors for business?  I can’t fart for at least a day.  And by the way, if it gives ME flashbacks (and sphincter issues), what the hell does all that booming and bright flashing do to the minds of the soldiers who were just in a war?  Essentially we’re celebrating soldiers by throwing them deep into their own trauma.  That doesn’t seem like the best thank you ever.  I’m sort of morphing Veterans Day with the Fourth of July, but there is a similar theme.  Patriotism.  And closing sphincters.  I just love the word.  What can I say?  SSSPPPPPPHHHHHHINCTER!

In my mama bear psychosis I called the cops almost nightly to report illegal fireworks.  Karma giggled.

“Really?” she said.  “You don’t remember keeping people up in the middle of August?  After they’d already survived the real Fourth of July?”

At least I only called the cops.  My husband would go to the park, sneak up on the small-minded teens (who are always wearing wife beaters.  why is this?) trying to impress their girlfriends by blowing off their own digits, and suddenly shine a flashlight in their faces, booming (almost as loudly as the professional fireworks), “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING OUT HERE?!”

They’d inevitably reply with some intelligent response like, “Dude, we’re just celebrating and having fun, man.  Mind your fucking business.”

If you’ve met my husband, you’d know that this is the wrong answer.  His voice alone makes people crap themselves, daily.  A hot wind of loud words would push their way out of his mouth and up against their pimply teen angst; a warning about fireworks being illegal and how they had woken his baby and that if they didn’t leave, they would probably never be able to make their own babies because all their baby making parts would become a part of that next firework that they shot off. They’d inevitably run and he’d come back home, feeling the pride that only a papa bear can feel when he successfully scares the poo out of people who have bothered his baby girl, people who are at least 25 years younger than him.  Man, I bet that caused a giant cluster of new zits on more than one teen.

Obviously, over the past fifteen years I have come to dislike this time of year. When the fireworks were cancelled last year I was ecstatic, knowing that I’d be going to bed early and my dogs would be free from tumultuous bouts of diarrhea. (Weird, when you think about it.  Stress seems to loosen their sphincters.)  YES! But this year, we’ve had rain.  The whole month of May was a drippy mess.  That means, you guessed it, FIREWORKS.  As I come to accept my fate and the inevitable doggie squirts, I realize that I am being a great big grump about this. This is not the example that I want to set for my daughter.  I want her to be excited to make some noise, and to perhaps even be a bit patriotic.  I am a struggling-startle response riddled-pathetic example of a patriot (if you haven’t noticed), but her dad is a veteran, so I’m always trying to improve.  It’s good to love your country, especially to appreciate all of the freedoms you have.  Women in Saudi Arabia are STILL trying to just get the right to DRIVE!  Imagine.  And that’s just the beginning.  They can’t speak their minds without serious ramifications.  They can’t wear shorts if it’s 125 degrees.  They can’t work in whatever field they want to – a large majority can’t work at all.  They DO still have arranged marriages (not everyone…but again, it’s more common than not), and they are often forced into marriage before most of us have started reading the Twilight books.  Women are still not entirely equal in this society, that is obvious, but man… we have it SO good by comparison.  This country of ours gives us options and choices and even best of all,

A VOICE!

oh…and the right to bear explosives that may or may not blow off your own fingers.

I guess it’s time for me to realize what the fireworks represent.  It is only one day, and it’s not in August.   I will drink beer.  I will eat a hot dog (granted, it’ll be a nitrate free turkey dog) on a (whole wheat) bun.  I will set off a stink bomb or two – and not the ones that I normally set off – the ones with the putrid colors.  I will cheer at the spectacle in the sky.  I will thank my lucky stars that my dogs are getting older and can’t hear as well.  And, most importantly, I will wear earplugs.